U.S. Senate Addresses Crumbling Water Infrastructure, Coal Ash

Sep 15, 2016

Little Blue Run Coal Ash Impoundment in Pennsylvania - the largest coal ash impoundment in the U.S.
Credit Wiki

The U.S. Senate passed a bill today to address water infrastructure challenges. It also incorporates provisions that affect coal ash regulations.


The Water Resources Development Act passed almost unanimously through the Senate today: 95-3. It now moves on to the House for consideration. With rare bipartisan support, the bill authorizes water projects across the country, including funding to address thousands of dams in need of repairs in the U.S. -- 422 in West Virginia.

“The Water Resources Development Act proactively addresses a number of concerns with our nation’s water infrastructure in a broad, bipartisan way. It will bring short- and long-term gains to our economy and support needed infrastructure improvements in West Virginia and in communities around the country. I worked hard to secure provisions that will protect West Virginia from the type of devastation we experienced this summer from historic flooding, and provisions that will lead to improved water infrastructure and more recreational opportunities along our waterways,” said Senator Capito in a press release.

Provisions secured by West Virginia’s senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito are designed to give states more control over management of coal ash. In a release Manchin called it “commonsense legislation.” His sentiments were echoed by Capito and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell from Kentucky who both said the bill provides clarity and confidence for industries that deal with coal ash.

“I am proud we were able to come together and pass this commonsense legislation that will protect jobs and our economy, while giving families and businesses the certainty they need,” Senator Manchin said.

The Sierra Club is concerned about the coal ash provisions. A spokesperson said provisions erode public health and safety protections.

There are hundreds of coal ash ponds and disposal sites scattered across West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky.